“But I thought that after a while, we’d go back to a normal, slower pace. That didn’t happen,” Dannhessier said.
Carlton on Thursday told The Herald that problems will occur when the commission has 50 or 60 priorities to accomplish and he and they have to juggle with what is more important..He also said that the commission asked him to complete about 15 projects before he retires.
“This contributes to the tension,” he said. “Tension in exciting, dynamic government happens. It’s not a bad thing.”
Carlton also stated that the town attorney’s office had been provided with sufficient funds in the budget to hire outside counsel and assistants to help her with the workload.
“Somewhere north of $100,000 extra,” he said.
“Insufficient,” Dannheisser countered. When she came back from an August vacation, she said, she discovered that one third of the budgeted funds for the year had been spent due to legal services with outside counsel. “And that was at a discounted rate,” she said. “This is a quality control issue. If I lose control over the quality because of the unrestricted volume of work, then I am not doing my job.”
Mayor Daniel Dietch said he was not pleased with the way things turned out. In October, he said, he called a meeting with Carlton and Dannheisser to see if they could work out a compromise.
“I thought things had worked out. Clearly, they had not,” he said. “All relationships end. But we go on our separate ways.”
Before joining Surfside, Dannheisser was a partner at the law firm of Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske. She specialized in land use, real estate and municipal law. Before that, she served for eight years as city attorney for Sunny Isles Beach. Before that, she also served as attorney for the village of Pinecrest and the city of South Miami.
The commission, after about an hour of discussion and plenty of praise for Dannheisser, reluctantly voted 3-2 to approve her termination “without cause.” Commissioners Marta Olchyk and Michael Karukin dissented. Although all the commissioners said they didn’t want Dannheisser to leave, the latter two said they could not accept it.
But the separation won’t come cheap. The agreement terminating Dannheisser’s contract includes a severance package with six months of pay — worth about $90,000 — and the town will pay for her COBRA health insurance for six months. That’s about $4,000.
In the meantime, the commission appointed Linda Miller and Sarah Johnston as the town’s interim attorney and interim assistant attorney, respectively. Miller has been Dannheisser’s assistant since 2008. Johnston has served as law clerk for the town the last three years. Both are attorneys.
The commission will meet Jan. 22 to discuss the hiring of a new attorney.